I was hoping for the best, for the sake of our athletes gay and straight who’ve been sacrificing and training for years, often a lifetime, for their moment to shine. I was hoping the Winter Olympics would be an opportunity for America to show the world that hate and bigotry never win. Russia is, however, hell-bent on discriminating against, dehumanizing, and destroying folks like me. I wrote the post below before confirmation by Russia’s Interior Minister that LGBT athletes would be arrested. Click the article link:
BREAKING: Russia Interior Minister confirms Olympic athletes will be arrested at Sochi under anti-gay law
Thank you for your resolve and continued support of the LGBTQ community. Uniting our voices does indeed bring change where change is needed most. Allies like you, those who step up and speak out especially on a local level, in their place of employment, in their neighborhood, in their house of worship, empower all who seek only to be treated as one hopes they themselves would be treated.
As a gay man I am appalled and angered by the current events in Russia. I, myself, am doing all I can to bring awareness to those in my circles. I know you feel and are doing the same.
As an opportunity to bring global awareness to the human rights crimes being committed against the LGBTQ community by the Russian government I pose this question: Is it better to boycott the Olympics, thus disqualifying our athletes — gay and straight — after years and for some a lifetime of training or should our athletes participate and show the world what they can achieve as representatives of a country who’s moving forward with gay rights? What I mean to ask is: If the United State does not participate will the crimes against gays and lesbians in Russia continue? Or, perhaps, by America’s gay, lesbian, and straight athletes competing together, by exemplifying solidarity during the games, can we as a nation use the opportunity to show the world — and even those homophobes in our country — that denying rights, bullying, beating, imprisoning, and murdering gays and lesbians is absolutely unacceptable? Which will bring more attention to the greater cause? Which would be a proactive approach reaping the most benefit? I have no doubt our government and the Olympic Committee will do everything in their power to protect gay and lesbian athletes. Yes, there is great concern for the LGBTQ spectators and family members attending the games. But does Russia really want an international human rights scandal on their hands to be televised globally during the Winter Olympics? Personally, I don’t think so.
I offer two articles below from one former (and my personal favorite!) and one current Olympian. You and I, and all who love their LGBTQ family and friends want the same thing –the opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are getting there and it’s because folks like you and your family, and my family, have chosen to stand up in their hometowns and say loud and clear, “We will not live in shame or the shadows any longer. You may try to hurt us, to knock us down, but we will dust ourselves off, get back up, and stand up to your bigotry and hate. We are here! We aren’t leaving!”
Shouldn’t we do the same in Sochi?
All the best to you and yours.
J. Patrick Redmond